The greatest threats to the health of children growing up today in the United States are no longer infectious diseases such as polio, chicken pox, mumps, cholera, or malaria. Increasingly they are chronic diseases such as autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, asthma, obesity, diabetes, and pediatric cancers -- and these are on the rise.
Russell McKenna, MD
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- What are common health concerns for children in the United States?
How can video games affect my child?
Michele Borba, Psychology, answeredA study led by Dr. Vincent Matthews and his colleagues at Indiana University found that those students who played violent video games showed less brain activity in areas that involved emotions, attention, and inhibition of impulses. Researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan brain activity in participants. What's more, researchers are unclear as to how long-lasting the changes may be.
"Individuals and parents of children who choose to play games need to be aware that there are changes in brain function and they need to consider that when they decide whether or not to play this games," cautions Matthews in an interview with TIME.
Many child experts (myself included) are also concerned that violent video game playing may desensitize your child to empathy -- or that glorious capacity to feel for another.
A University of Toronto study of fourth and fifth graders found that those spending the most time playing violent video games are also most likely to agree with statements such as: "People with guns or knives are cool," and "Parents should tell their kids to fight if they have to." Those same kids are also more likely to disagree with statements such as, "When I'm mean to someone I generally feel bad about it later."
Yes, the research is still out on the long-lasting impact of violent video games, but they do teach kids how to kill.
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How important are childhood friendships?
Allison Patterson, PsyD, Psychology, answeredDeveloping friendships in childhood is very important and serves to fulfill several functions. Friendship provides children with companionship. Companionship is a familiar partner willing to spend time and join in collaborative activities. Friendship provides stimulation, a way to engage in shared excitement and amusement. Friendship helps children build self-esteem. Positive feedback from others helps children view themselves as competent, attractive, and worthwhile individuals. Friendship builds intimacy when children are able to trust another individual and engage in self-disclosure. Studies have shown that children who did not have a friend engaged in less prosocial behavior, had lower grades and were more emotionally distressed compared to children who had one or more friends. Children with no friendships reported feeling lonely, depressed and had low self-esteem. Parents should seek support if their children are having difficulty making friends.
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